February 2, 1998   vol 9, no. 23    


Unity is paramount to fostering and nourishing the necessary lay renaissance within Holy Mother Church

     Continuing with our feature series on the Holy Father's encyclicals and Apostolic Letters and Exhortations, we bring you the fifth installment of his Teaching on the Laity - Christifideles Laici, expertly analyzed by Dr. Joseph Bagiackas, who summarizes the Pope's words into lay terms everyone can understand and respond to. His work has been praised by many bishops and theologians, chief among them Cardinal John O'Connor of New York who wrote, "I believe these are extraordinarily helpful summations that will draw the reader closer to knowing God and will encourage broader readership of the writings of this remarkable Pope." Click on THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS
INTRODUCTION: In this "Lay Person's Guide to the Pope's Encyclicals" we catch a synopsis of the Holy Father's wisdom adroitly capsulized by Dr. Joseph Bagiackas, Ph.D. In his Papal Exhortation "Christifideles Laici", the Holy Father exhorts the laity to faithfulness. It is appropriate we follow-up November's pertinent document from the Holy See on Instructions to the Laity and Priests on abuses, by reinforcing the Pope's teachings with this Apostolic Exhortation imparted ten years ago. Now ten years later, after the "ten year period of grace" Our Blessed Mother spoke of to Father Don Stefano Gobbi back in 1988, we revisit this important letter from the supreme pontiff and, through the expert analysis of Dr. Bagiackas his holiness' words will be clearer and more simple to understand and most meaningful in these times when there are so many who, rather than pulling together for God's Will, are pulling apart within the laity. The eminent prelate from New York John Cardinal O'Connor has said of Dr. Bagiackas' work: "These summations will draw the reader closer to knowing God and will encourage broader readership of the writings of this remarkable Pope."

To read the entire Apostolic Letter click on Christifideles Laici

fifth installment:

Introduction: 1. The Laity's Obligation to the Apostolate,
2. The World, which is the Laity's Apostolic Field, and
3. Changes in the World Today

      Pope John Paul II begins Christifideles Laici by discussing the Gospel parable of the man who went out to find workers for his vineyard. He went out at mid-morning and "found some people standing idle in the marketplace." The Pope uses this passage to make the argument that the laity, who in past times may have taken on a passive role with regard to the mission of the Church, can no longer take this stance. Yes, there was a time when the good lay person was called on to "pray, pay, and obey." Nothing more was asked for. But now, the Pope clearly teaches that things have changed for the world and for the laity. Laity can no longer stand "idle in the marketplace," the marketplace symbolizing the situation lay persons naturally occupy in the world, such as family, work place, cultural life, political life, and the like. They, more then ever, have the duty - the obligation - to be active in the lay apostolate. This is because the "temporal realm" or the "world" mankind has created for himself is much more important than in past times.

     The World, which is the Laity's Apostolic Field: The "world," or the "secular sphere," or "temporal realm" means the non-religious part of life. This area of life is much more dominant than in past times. In past days, most people lived difficult lives, full of suffering, poverty, and disease. They worked very hard, with little to show for their efforts. The Church provided most of the culture and leisure they experienced. The Church, the clergy, monks, and sisters were at the center of society and had great power, at least in Christian countries.

     But in the past century, the western world has developed a culture which is no longer dependent on the Church. Also, there has been great material progress in many areas, leading to more opportunities for cultural experience, travel, more time to socialize, and the like. The mass media have come to dominate much of life. The clergy is on the margin of the new cultural situation of the world. Culture and society are controlled by secular forces, meaning non-religious influences. These forces are not necessarily bad, but a Christian influence is needed for things to work right.

     The laity are more part of the current secular culture than the clergy, and so they are better able to influence matters. The things which dominate our lives today - media, politics, economics, the arts, sports - this is the field of the laity. Therefore, more than ever, we lay people are the Church present in the world.

     The Pope then comments on major trends in this changed world. There is a growing secularism, combined with a denial of God and religion. But at the same time, there is a growing hunger for spiritual realities, since God created us to be happy only with Him. There are serious attacks on the dignity of the person, in the form of abortion, euthanasia, religious persecution, and denial of basic rights. Conflicts among people are on the increase, in the forms of war, violence, terrorism, and the like. These all can best be influenced by the laity.

Next week: Chapter One: 4. Definition of the Laity.


Today's prayer is taken from theGospel Canticle of today's feast of the Presentation of the Lord

Medjugorje Monthly Message for January 25th

      Dear children! Today again I call all of you to prayer. Only with prayer, dear children, will your heart change, become better, and be more sensitive to the Word of God. Little children, do not permit satan to pull you apart and to do with you what he wants. I call you to be responsible and determined and to consecrate each day to God in prayer. May Holy Mass, little children, not be a habit for you, but life. By living Holy Mass each day, you will feel the need for holiness and you will grow in holiness. I am close to you and intercede before God for each of you, so that He may give you strength to change your heart. Thank you for having responded to my call! For more on Medjugorje, click on MEDJUGORJE

697 and counting...

WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant



     RWANDA (IKA) Father Vijeko Curic, a member of the Bosna Srebrena Province and missionary in Rwanda, was killed during the night between January 31 and February 1 in that African country. According to present knowledge, Fatjer Vijeko was killed in his automobile by pistol shots and the perpetrator of the crime has escaped.

      Father Vijeko was born on April 26, 1957 in Lupoglava in the parish of Osova. He entered the Franciscan order on July 15, 1976 and was ordained to the priesthood on June 21, 1982 in Sarajevo. That same year, he went to Paris to prepare for his missionary calling. On August 18, 1983, he began his missionary activity in Rwanda. Father Vijeko, a young and capable priest, gained worldwide recognition during the time of the violent conflict between the Hutu and Tutsi, when he selflessly worked to help the victims of both nations. He also brought numerous whites (bishops, priests, monks, nuns and others) to safety.

      The Franciscan order and Father Vijeko's province of Bosna Srebrena received special recognition from the Holy Father for the work of Father Vijeko. In order to rescue and help others for the glory of God and love of his neighbor, Father Vijeko endured a martyr's death, according to the statement by his provincialate. Father Vijeko's provincialate has requested Church officials to have his earthly remains transported to his homeland.



      VATICAN (CWN) -- The Vatican news agency Fides today published an account of a massacre in Rwanda, which claimed the lives of five Catholic nuns.

      The killings, which took place January 7 and 8 in the town of Busasamana, was the result of a mob attack on the nuns' convent. After battering down the door with machetes, the assailants killed the five nuns and wounded two others before departing.

      Just a month earlier, the nuns had been invited by Bishop Wenceslas Kalibushi of the local Nyundo diocese to leave their convent outpost and join the Catholic community in the larger city. But the nuns had declined, saying that they wished to continue serving the community in Busasamana.

      Asked whether the massacre had been carried out by Hutu or Tutsi warriors, one Catholic missionary replied that he could not be sure, explaining: "Nothing in Rwanda is rational." He said that each side in the country's ethnic warfare pointed at the other side, while some observers guessed that government soldiers were involved in the attack.


     WASHINGTON, DC (CWN) - House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, said on Thursday that he is proposing a bill that would permanently ban US research into human cloning forever, a more stringent approach than that advocated by the Food and Drug Administration.

      Armey, flanked by leaders of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Christian Coalition, and the Family Research Council, said he agreed with President Bill Clinton's earlier proposals for a ban, but went further saying any ban should not allow any cloning research including study of cloning cells for producing replacement skin, cartilage, or bone tissue. He also said the ban should be permanent and not just for five years as Clinton proposed.

      The FDA and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine have both cautioned against wide-ranging bans on cloning research because they could prevent important gains in medical treatments for infertile couples, organ and tissue replacement, and other advancements.


     GUATEMALA CITY (CWN) - Cuban writer Carlos Alberto Montaner, one of the most influential Anti-Castro Cubans in exile, announced on Wednesday that he will support a moderate critique of Cuban leader Fidel Castro as a response to Pope John Paul's visit to the country last week.

      Montaner, a journalist and writer who was initially a supporter of the Cuban Revolution and was later imprisoned in Havana because of his criticism of Castro, said during a visit to Guatemala that he will promote "a dramatic change in favor of moderation" in the anti-Castro strategy.

      "Anti-Castro strategy, after the Pope's clear request, is moving into a moderate stance, and for the first time in history, we will promote a peaceful and bloodless evolution into democracy."

      Montaner, who writes one of the most influential syndicated columns on the Cuban situation, said that his decision was a consequence of "the Pope's call to reconciliation."

      The following day Guatemalan President Alvaro Arzu announced on Thursday that the Central American country will reestablish diplomatic relationships with Cuba as a response to Pope John Paul's request during his visit to the island-nation last week.

      The announcement will become effective next week, the Guatemalan Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed in a press release made public on Wednesday. "In response to the Pope's call to open the world to Cuba made during his recent visit to the Caribbean Island, Guatemala will reestablish the diplomatic ties," the release said. Guatemala broke diplomatic relationships with Cuba in 1961, after it was revealed that the Cuban government was supporting Marxist rebels in Guatemala.

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"Good sense brings favor, but the way of the faithless is their ruin."

Proverbs 14: 15

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February 2, 1998 volume 9, no. 23          DAILY CATHOLIC

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